Phuket International Airport, a busy hub that plays a huge role in the tourism industry of Thailand, is located 32 kilometers north off Phuket Island, the most popular resort destination in the country. In terms of air passengers, the airport is the second only to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Serving millions of passengers, mostly tourists, who visit Phuket’s beaches, its tourist attractions, and other neighboring provinces, there are currently 55 airlines that handle nearly three million passengers, 27,000 flights, and 12 tons of cargo that pass through Phuket International Airport every year.
Operating 24 hours a day, the airport can accommodate 10 flights every hour. Its runways, made of asphaltic concrete are 3,000 meters long and 45 meters wide, and it houses two terminals: Terminal 1 with its concentration of international flights, and Terminal 2 handling domestic destinations.
In the last 20 years of its operations, Phuket International Airport has documented a record numbers of passengers, registering 5.7 million passengers in 2008 alone. To accommodate increasing air and passenger traffic, a THB 5.8 billion (approx. $US 191.2 million) expansion and renovation will begin on July 2012, and is expected to be completed by 2015. The plans for expansion will include a new international airport terminal, renovation of the existing Terminal 2 for domestic flights, as well as other improvements on the hub’s airfield. Travelers should also expect a brand new car park and air cargo office.
International and domestic airlines flying through Phuket International Airport include:
At present, travelers passing through Phuket International Airport have access to airport facilities, which include car rental service agencies, currency exchange booths, Duty Free shops, an Information Counter, a left baggage counter, limousine and minibus services, a public taxi stand, public and airport bus terminals, a lost and found department, medical services, a merchandise shop, a post and telegraph office, restaurants, and tour services.
Passengers booked at Dewa Phuket resort on the island, located five minutes from Phuket International Airport, can avail of access to free airport transportation.
Other hotels and resorts near the airport include Sala Phuket Resort and Spa, JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa, Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach Resort, and Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa.
Famed as Thailand’s premier tourist destination, Phuket Island is popular for its beaches, particularly the long stretch of coast along Patong Beach, also known for its lively nightlife and inexpensive shopping.
While extensively developed Patong Beach is a well-traversed area among tourists, other beaches are popular in Phuket, as well: Karon Beach, Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach, Nai Harn Beach, Rawai, Kamala Beach, Surin Beach, and Bang Tao Beach, are less crowded and sought-after among families, individuals and other tourist groups.
South of Phuket Island are a number of coral islands located to its south, the Similan Islands in the north, and Phi Phi Islands in the south east. The tourist industry around and about Phuket caters mostly to snorkelers and scuba divers, although the Wat Chalong and Phuket Temples, shrines, Muay Thai boxing tournaments, cabaret shows, events and festivals, national parks and other amusements also abound on the island and contribute to it’s tourist attractions.